Summer Superheroes is a “Parent & After School Resource” on ReadWriteThink. It offers an interesting twist to the concept of creating your own superhero by challenging the author to invent a superhero whose powers are somehow dependent on the warmest season of the year. The detailed instructions for motivating the child and for helping him or her to develop the story include interactive resources on the ReadWriteThink site. This would be a fun idea to share with parents, or to use in the last month of school – when everyone’s mind is on summer anyway!
Sometimes I feel like I live under a rock. Two of my co-workers were talking about this video at lunch the other day, and I admitted that I had never heard of it. Considering that the video has gotten over 2.5 million views, you would think that I might have come across it at some point. Even after they discussed it, I still didn’t watch it until today when I saw it referenced in an on-line article. ”Oh, yeah, that did sound interesting,” I thought, and clicked on the link. I am so glad I did! It was definitely 11 minutes of my time not wasted. Caine’s imaginative cardboard arcade will inspire you with its creativity, and his personality will endear him to you.
I read a book to my Gifted and Talented Kindergartners every year called Christina Katerina and the Box. After we read the book, I dump a bunch of boxes I have saved onto a table along with random bits and pieces of things. Then I let the kids create. After seeing Caine’s Arcade, I realize that I need to do this more often – and with all of my classes.
You might want to show Caine’s Arcade to your students. There is one part that I caught, when they were showing comments on social networks, that briefly flashes an inappropriate word. If you are concerned about this, or you just want to show key parts of the video, I recommend TubeChop.
Pink Bat, by Michael McMillan, is an inspirational book that I just shared with my 5th graders. The book is “about turning problems into solutions”. In a charming story about a plastic red baseball bat that fades with time, the author teaches about the importance of trying to look at problems through a different lens. Included with the book is a DVD of the author explaining his message. You can also find that video here. We were able to connect the story to another video that was recently brought to my attention through e-mail. Ask your students to brainstorm their own “pink bats”, and share a few of yours!
I should probably preface this post by admitting that I have absolutely no artistic talent whatsoever. If I did, my creations on Sketch Nation Studio would be much more entertaining – and I might have included some screenshots on this post. As it is, though, I am pretty certain you will be much more impressed by the actual iTunes photos.
Sketch Nation Studio is a free app for iDevices that allows the user to create a simple app out of his or her own sketches. You do not have to know any programming mumbo jumbo or submit your game for approval. You follow the extremely user-friendly steps and, voila!
Your drawings can be created in the app itself, or you can draw them on paper and upload them to the app. This is where I think the creativity (and superior artistic talent) of my students will shine. You can find ways, I’m sure, of integrating curriculum with this app. But the true value is in the joy of creating and seeing a usable finished product.
For a great internet research challenge, try “A Google A Day”. At the bottom of the search page, there is a question for that day. You are timed on how long it takes you to submit a correct answer. You can get hints as well as tips for how to search for the solution. If you are looking for a particular date, you can change the date in the URL in the address bar. This would be a fun quick challenge for kids in a 1:1 classroom. You could also do it at a station, and have students record how long it took them. For further differentiation, assign students to create their own challenges.
In 2010, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, delivered the Baccalaureate Address at Princeton University. Last year, I showed this video of his address to my 5th grade GT students. In 18 minutes, Jeff Bezos is able to sum up everything that I hope that my students will gather from our classroom activities and discussions. In particular, I like this part of his speech, “What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful, and if you do, it’ll probably be to the detriment of your choices.” You can find a complete transcript of his address here.
This year, I will show this video to my current 5th graders, and we will talk about the questions that Mr. Bezos poses at the end of his address. My students may not be in college, yet, but it is never too early to consider that our strengths can be destructive when wielded without thought for others.
This video can also be viewed at http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/jeff_bezos_gifts_vs_choices.html
I have mentioned Luke Neff’s Writing Prompt site before in My Favorite Online Writing Tools post, but I recently found a page of collected prompts that he had done on one theme – personhood. My 4th graders are discussing the Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Intelligences right now, and these prompts are great discussion topics. If you are looking for inspiring journal entries, want to delve into the Multiple Intelligences, or just want to spark some new conversations in your class, post one of these slides on your screen!
The amazing Hostess with the Mostest, Lisa Johnson, at www.techchef4u.com, has just released a free iPhone app – also called TechChef4U. It is an app to find apps – specifically EDUCATIONAL apps that are FREE. When I downloaded the app today, there were already over 500 apps listed. Featured apps will also include examples for classroom integration, and you can search for the apps by Platform, Grade Level, and Category. This is a great, and much needed, resource for teachers. Download your TechChef4U app today!